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HOME > Exchange page > Post-Programme exchange reports > Post-Programme Exchange and Activity reports > What the JENESYS Dispatch Programme Did for the Japanese Youth
 
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Post-Programme Exchange and Activity reports

What the JENESYS Dispatch Programme Did for the Japanese Youth

 Recently, the introverted mindset of young people has been viewed as a problem in Japan. Fewer young people are showing an interest in foreign countries, and some people are concerned about the future of international relations and how the youth are living their lives.

 A total of 609 youth from Japan were dispatched to 16 countries and regions in East Asia and the Pacific Islands from 2009 through 2012, as part of the JENESYS Programme, which was conducted by JICE.
 In this issue, we would like to share with you the impact that international youth exchanges had on Japanese young people, by shining the spotlight on high school and technical college students ( *) who participated in the dispatch programme to East Asian countries in July 2010.

 (* The high school students were dispatched to countries in the Mekong Region (i.e., Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar) and the technical college students were dispatched to Singapore. The following comments are answers to interview questions asked by JICE to the programme participants between 2010 and 2011. Click here for details on the programmes
 → High school students / Technical college students)

Not Much of an Impression before Going on the Programme

 When we asked the participants of the dispatch programme of their impressions of the countries that they visited prior to their visit, while they did say that they thought the country seemed poor or that it might be dangerous, we learned that they did not have much of an impression of the countries.
 Many of them said that while they knew the names of the countries, they did not know where exactly the countries were located.
467-1.jpg
[Students from Tama High School in Kanagawa Prefecture Dispatched to Cambodia]
"I knew about the land mines, but I did not know why they are in the ground."
 "I knew about Angkor Wat, but I did not associate it with Cambodia."
(Students dispatched to Cambodia)

"I had only heard of Vietnam in contexts related with the Vietnam War, such as Viet and Duc Nguyen." (High school student dispatched to Vietnam)

"I only knew about the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi and that there are many bombing incidents. That's because you can't learn about national character through the news."
(High school student dispatched to Myanmar)

"I had the impression that they have strict regulations and fines for littering on the street. I thought that's why the streets were so clean." (Technical college student dispatched to Singapore)


Reasons for Participating in the Programme
 "I do not have much of an impression of the country." "It looks like a dangerous place and I am also concerned about the sanitary conditions." With such concerns, why did the students participate in the programme? It was because they wanted to take a step forward in their own growth.
 Several students said that serving as hosts at school for the students from East Asian countries who visited Japan in the JENESYS Invitation Programme (click HERE for details) made them interested in Asia and international exchanges.) 
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[Students from Hokkaido Sapporo Kiyota High School Dispatched to Myanmar]
"Now that I am a senior in high school, and with club activities over, I was looking for something meaningful to do. When our school was accepting applicants for the programme, they said that participants of the programme were to engage in activities for international contribution after returning to Japan. I did not know what I could do, but I felt that it would worth going on the programme if it would help me figure out what I could do."
(High school student dispatched to Thailand)

"I wanted to see an Asian culture other than Japan, partly because my teacher told me to go abroad while I was still in high school because it would give me a broader perspective of the world." (High school student dispatched to Vietnam)

"I wanted to get a first-hand look at the things that I learned in seminars concerning Japan's assistance for developing countries" (High school student dispatched to Laos)

"Up until now, overseas to me meant Europe, but after meeting and talking to our visitors from ASEAN countries in the JENESYS Programme, I became more interested in Southeast Asia."
(High school student dispatched to Myanmar)


International Youth Exchange
 The programme that all of the participants agreed that they were most impressed with was the school exchange. The students that they interacted with were from a country with a different culture, history, language, and environment. But after the exchange programme, they said that the foreign students were no different than Japanese people. hey worried about how they did on their tests in school, and they also liked the same pop idols. Across the ocean, the Japanese students found students who were just like them. At the same time, they seemed to be shocked to see students their own age struggle to study in a very different living environment. 467-3.jpg
[Students from Ibaraki Prefectural Toride Shoyo High School Dispatched to Laos]
 There is an exchange that is only possible now, when the students are able to absorb ideas in a flexible way without being bound by prejudices.

"During the residential programme, I was able to talk a lot with students from Singapore who were the same age. Even though we were from different countries, we were able to find common interests and we talked about our dreams until the middle of the night. I felt that it doesn’t matter what country you are from." (Technical college student dispatched to Singapore)

"Fashion, false eyelashes, and cell phones. I felt that youth trends are the same everywhere. But I was amazed with their high proficiency in English. I would like to keep in touch with them through Facebook." (High school student dispatched to Laos)

"I felt that the Cambodian students are more motivated to study, and have a clear idea of what they want to do in the future. Studying should be something that you do on your own, and it should not be forced upon you. I felt very blessed to have an environment for studying, which has made me want to study harder."(High school student dispatched to Cambodia)

"I was amazed that when I asked the Thai students about the riots during the school exchange programme, they answered without hesitation that 'the national government and the people do not agree.' I was impressed that, even though they were the same age as me, the Thai students had their own opinions about politics and did not consider it to be something that did not affect their lives." (High school student dispatched to Thailand)


Places that Left a Lasting Impression
 It appears that the JENESYS Programme participants learned a lot through their interactions with the local people and their visits to places where support activities were going on. They were able to visit places that they would not have been able to go to, had they not participated in the programme, which was completely different from an ordinary trip to a foreign country.
 The students said things like: "I want the length of our visits to schools and companies to be longer,"  "I want to see the conditions in rural areas as well," and "I want to stay with a host family so I can see what everyday life is like." The more the students learned, the more eager they became to learn.
467-4.jpg
[Students from Aichi Prefectural Chiryu Higashi High School Dispatched to Thailand]
"We visited Buddhist ruins with students from Myanmar who were the same age. Being able to visit historical places with the local people, and to hear what they had to say, was a valuable experience." (High school student dispatched to Myanmar)

"At the Embassy of Japan, the counselor explained things very clearly, and I was able get an overview of Laos. In addition, the counselor was willing to listen to our opinions, so I told him my impressions of the hospital conditions, etc." (High school student dispatched to Laos)

"In visiting the Vietnam Blind Association, I was shocked to learn that the reason there are three times as many visually impaired people in Vietnam as there are in Japan is because of the war, and that they haven't established guide dogs and tactile paving systems yet"
(High school student dispatched to Vietnam)

"In visiting the ODA Site for Human Trafficking* I was shocked to hear that children victimized by human trafficking still respect their parents, and want to return home and see them, even though they were abandoned by their parents. I believe that this is a problem that is much greater than the one sentence in our textbook of: 'Human trafficking occurs in certain parts of poor countries.' We need to spread awareness of the problem and think about how to resolve the problem collectively." (High school student dispatched to Thailand)


 (*ODA Site for Human Trafficking: A facility engaged in official development assistance (ODA) that aims to protect victims of human trafficking, who have been sold away by their parents due to poverty or have been victimized by a crime (e.g. kidnapping, fraud, etc.), as well as to facilitate measures to support the independence of the victims.)


Being able to understand Japan and Japanese People for the First Time
 A connection between Japan and the world that allowed the participants of the programme to, by going abroad, learn more about Japan. The perception of Japan as seen from other countries. Through these things, the participants were able to see an image of Japan that they had never seen before.
 Then there was the sense of safety and security that they had always taken for granted. What is normal in Japan was not normal abroad. It appears that the programme has made the students reexamine their own living environments and appreciate the things they have and reflect on the things they take for granted.
467-5.jpg
[Students from Hyogo Prefectural Ashiya International Secondary School Dispatched to Vietnam]
"The local people thanked us, the Japanese people, for sending technicians as well as large amounts of aid in an effort to restore Angkor Wat and build bridges there. I felt that there is still a lot about Japan that I do not know." (High school student dispatched to Cambodia)

"I learned that Japan is involved in a wide range of support activities, such as conserving the landscapes that have existed for many years, as well as donating braille printers and software, and teaching braille to persons with visual impairments. I am very happy that Japan is using tax money on such activities." (High school student dispatched to Vietnam)

"I found a "KAIZEN List" (improvement list) at a company we visited. "KAIZEN" refers to a slogan that was thought up by a world-leading, Japanese automaker. I felt proud, as a Japanese person, to learn that the word "KAIZEN" had already reached overseas and was a part of everyday language in the industrial world." (High school student dispatched to Singapore)

"I learned that Japan has had a large influence on Thailand, not only with animation, but with its culture and economy as well. I think that Japanese should learn more about other countries and recognize that Japan is highly regarded overseas." (High school student dispatched to Thailand)

"I came to appreciate the fact that I grew up in Japan's blessed environment, in terms of safety and the availability of water. In Vietnam, I always had to be ware of pickpockets and bag snatchers when I walked down the street, and in the supermarkets, they wrapped my bag with saran wrap to prevent shoplifting. The water was not drinkable, unless it was bottled water, and I had to be careful not to drink the water when taking a shower or brushing my teeth."
(High school student dispatched to Vietnam)


How the Programme Changed the Youth
 The international exchange programme, which was about 10 days long, had a major impact on the participants. Nearly all of them said that the programme changed their values and world view and broadened their perspectives.
 The youth became confused about the differences between what is reported in the news and the actual conditions they saw, and they have come to recognize that the news does not paint the entire picture.news does not paint the entire picture."What is it about my life that makes it developed or better?"
467-6.jpg
[Students from Kunori Gakuen High School Dispatched to Vietnam]
 And they noticed that that they had grown much more than they imagined.

"By experiencing a different culture, I was able to accept the words and actions of others for what they are. I used to get mad about things that didn’t matter, but I think I have become more accepting of people's words and actions, because I now see those things as their individuality."
(High school student dispatched to Laos)

"I don't wait for directions passively anymore. During the programme, I began to look at the schedule and think on my own about the things that we would need in the next activity and how we would need to dress." "During the programme, I had many opportunities to speak in front of groups of people. Because of this, I gained the ability to speak to a group of people assertively. I am very happy because, after returning to Japan, my parents and friends told me that I looked more grown up." (High school students dispatched to Vietnam)

"I felt very happy that they gave us a warm welcome at the Thai school. At the same time, I felt bad about the less than cheerful welcome and scattered applause that our visitors from Thailand received when they visited our school, and I noticed that I had lost my graciousness as I began to be conscious of how I was perceived and felt embarrassed about showing them that I was working hard." (High school student dispatched to Thailand)

"Until now, I had admired things that were European and American, and only had an interest there, but after experiencing the culture and religion of Southeast Asia, which continues to be preserved as it evolves, I think that I am now able to see things from different perspectives."
(Technical college student dispatched to Singapore)


Continuing the Activities after the Completion of the Programme Post-programme Activities
 After the programme was over, events to report the outcomes of the programme were held at many schools, and a teacher-chaperone who went on the programme had this to say:

"When students listen to a talk, they will believe you more if the speaker is a student as well. This is not always the case if the speaker is an adult. Perhaps the students interpret your ideas as an ideal if the speaker is an adult. That is why I had the students share their experiences in their own words at these events."
467-7.jpg
[Students from Ritsumeikan Uji Junior & Senior High School & Junior High School Dispatched to Thailand]
 If the youth do the talking in their own words, their knowledge and experiences reach out to the listeners in a straightforward way, and will be shared by people. In addition, I saw many instances in which the students would think about what they could do now and took action.

"After thinking about what we could do, our class has decided to collect bottle caps, and donate vaccines. We are trying to expand our activities by encouraging all of the students at our school to participate." (High school student dispatched to Cambodia)

"We will engage in PR activities by using panel displays at the Culture Festival."
(High school student dispatched to Laos)

"In order to share with others what we learned in the programme, we have created posters periodically and put them up at school. We have begun our activities by trying to get people interested in a variety of topics such as human trafficking, environmental issues, the language, and food." (High school student dispatched to Thailand)

"We stayed in contact with the Thai students even after we returned to Japan, because we wanted to do something that would really help Thailand. We decided to set up segregated garbage bins at the schools we visited in an aim to resolve Thailand's serious garbage problem. We bought the garbage bins with the money we received in exchange for the bottle caps we collected, both in Japan and Thailand. We are communicating with the Thai students with a hope that it will lead to future improvements in Thailand." (High school student dispatched to Thailand)

"We have included essays written by students as well as photographs in newsletters for parents and academic journals that are distributed to several schools. We are also planning to discuss the programme at the citizens' seminars, which are conducted by JICA once a month."
(Teacher-chaperone dispatched to Myanmar)


The Dreams of the Youth
  "I am glad that I went on the programme when I did, because the experiences will affect what I'll study in college," said one participant.
 The youth are at an age when they are planning their future.
 Experiencing a variety of cultures and environments that are different from Japan will broaden their world as well as future possibilities.
467-8.jpg
[Students from Osaka Prefectural Mishima High School Dispatched to Laos]
"Until now, I did not have any dreams and I wondered whether it would be worth going to college. But in this programme, I leaned that the importance of international cooperation and international exchanges will continue to increase. I am hoping to have a job that involves sharing the things that Japan is advanced in with other regions and countries."
(High school student dispatched to Myanmar)

"The people in Cambodia had a clear idea of what they wanted to do. I would like to work in the field of education, because I believe that in order to change the attitudes of Japanese children so that they have a clear idea of what they want to do, the first thing that needs to change is the way in which the children are taught." (High school student dispatched to Cambodia)

"My dream is to become a designer. I would like to be involved with universal design, which will help a wide range of people." (High school student dispatched to Laos)

"I used to want to be a chef, but now I want to instruct people about sanitation in developing countries, after going to a university that offers home economics as a major."
(High school student dispatched to Vietnam)

"I would like to own a construction company overseas. I am now studying antiseismic reinforcement, and would like to make Japanese technology, which is highly regarded internationally, spread overseas." (High school student dispatched to Singapore)


Should the JENESYS Programme Continue?


 The JENESYS Programme, which is funded by the Japanese government, is operated with tax money paid for by Japanese citizens.
 In light of this, we asked the participants of the programme their honest opinions of whether this international youth exchange programme by the government should be continued.
467-9.jpg
[Students from Oita Prefectural Oita West High School Dispatched to Cambodia]
"Although the project does not produce immediate results, because this was a government-funded programme, I was able to visit places that I would not have been able to go to, and I was able to learn a lot of valuable information. If you just look at the financial side of things, it may be a good idea to rationalize some parts, but I hope that the vision and activities of the programme will continue." (High school student dispatched to Cambodia)

"Studying abroad is very expensive if you try to pay for it yourself. I believe that programmes funded by the Japanese government create opportunities for a wide range of people. In a society in which globalization is continuing, I believe that it is necessary for Japanese people to learn about the world and interact with people who have different values." (High school student dispatched to Laos)

"As long as the programme is made possible through the use of tax money, I believe that we are obligated to feel a certain level of responsibility as participants in the programme. Our activities cannot end when the programme is over, and we must share with people what we learned in the programme, in consideration of the taxpayers. I think that continuing the programme would be very meaningful if the participants have this type of sense of purpose."
(High school student dispatched to Thailand)

"I would like the students to think about what can be done to resolve issues not only in their lives or in Japan, but in Asia and the world as a whole. By having young people from different countries interact with one another, I hope that the world will be free of war. I hope that this type of exchange programme between schools will continue in the future, since there is more that the student can gain compared with a study abroad programme that they would go on alone."
(Teacher-chaperone dispatched to Myanmar)


How to Improve the Programme
 When interviewing the participants, many of them said that they hoped the JENESYS Programme would continue.
 Among them, there were some who said that they want to serve as teacher-chaperones for the JENESYS Programme, and that it would be wonderful if they could tell the students about their experiences from when they participated in the programme as students.
 What then are the areas of the programme that need improvement to allow the international exchange activities through the JENESYS Programme to continue effectively for many years to come?
467-10.jpg
[Students from Toyota National College of Technology Dispatched to Singapore]
"Transmitting the information through the media. While it is a wonderful programme, I think that there are many people who do not know about JENESYS. To be honest, I don’t think I would have ever known about it had I not been a student of this school. In fact, I doubt that members of the Diet even know about it. If this does not change, this programme will be eliminated in the Japanese government's budget screening process. I have a feeling that the events to report the outcomes of the programme will be done with only people who are involved with JENSYS, and the activities will not extend beyond the sphere of the JENESYS Programme. I believe that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, JICE, and we, the participants, need to transmit the information through the media." (High school student dispatched to Myanmar)

"Getting to know the other Japanese participants in this kind of programme is a good experience as well. This time, several students from two Japanese schools were sent to one country. How about sending one student from each school? That would make the participants more diverse, and it would increase the number of places where the participants could share their experiences after returning to Japan." (School principal whose school sent students to Vietnam)

"I think that it would be great if the programme could continue and if there were occasions when alumni like myself could explain the overview of the programme as well as talk about our experiences to the participants of the following fiscal year."
(Technical college students dispatched to Singapore)

"I believe that five years is too soon to start seeing results. I think that it will be difficult for the programme to show results unless the programme is continued over a long span of time while having as many people as possible participate. That is why I hope the programme will continue."
(High school student dispatched to Cambodia)


 There were also some participants who said that they would like information on the conditions in foreign countries as well as ODA to be included in their political economics and other textbooks, and that those topics be covered in their classes. They said that if they are required to learn the material, some students may show an interest in the topics.

 What the youth, who will live in an international society in the coming years, want from the government or a programme is a starting point as well as a support system to continue the activities.

Conclusion (Messages for Young People the Same Age)



 We received messages and words of advice from the participants of the JENESYS Programme to other young people the same age.
467-11.jpg
[Students from Tama University Hijirigaoka Senior School & Junior High School Dispatched to Myanmar]
"When I tell people that I will be going to a developing country, many of them react by saying, 'I've never heard of it' or 'Are you going to be okay?' My advice to you is to go for it with a positive mindset, instead of backing off because it is a place you do not know very much about. The differences will not cause you stress if you are able to accept things like the culture and sanitary conditions as the reality." (High school student dispatched to Myanmar)

"I think that it is important to explore things actively and begin tasks on your own because opportunities do not just come to you. When engaging in international exchanges, you will be able to get a lot more out of the experience if you are knowledgeable about Japan."
(High school student dispatched to Cambodia)

"I think that, once you are an adult, changing your future will be difficult, even if you do learn some things. When you learn about a different country, you will be able to understand new things. I would suggest that you interact with people from a different country and broaden your future possibilities." (High school student dispatched to Vietnam)

"Foreign countries are closer than you might imagine. In particular, Korea and China tend to have a negative image, despite being close to Japan geographically, mostly due to media coverage. You definitely have to see the countries with your own eyes, and I suggest that you try to do that. Going to a foreign country will definitely be a plus. You will be able to notice many interesting differences, which will make you want to learn more. I would suggest that you try going abroad, especially if you are looking for some kind of opportunity." (Technical college student dispatched to Singapore)


 We were able to see that giving young people (i.e., high school and technical college students) the opportunity to go abroad and interact with people their own age broadens their perspective and gives them a chance to reexamine themselves, Japan, and the world.

 When the youth, who have flexible minds and are not bound by prejudices, visited the countries and interacted with the local people, they felt that
"what is normal in Japan and what is normal in other countries are not the same" and "even if we have differences, we can come to an understanding."
 We think that these are feelings that we must keep in mind if we are to live in an international society in the coming years.

 We hope that the friendships that were formed in the JENESYS Programme will grow for many years to come, and will lead to more exchange opportunities, which will further strength "bonds" all over the world.

 We would like to sincerely thank everyone who participated in the interviews.